UPDATE: Newspaper Reported Mandela Dead on Front Page, Blogger Says, but It Didn’t Go to Print

July 17, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

UPDATE: The Daily News sent a statement to imediaethics.org, saying that the front page in question was an “unauthorized front page” that was sent to “some media outlets.” It did not actually go to print, the website reported.


The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News said that former South African leader Nelson Mandela had died at age 94, according to a media blogger, but it appears the gaffe was fixed, although it’s unclear when. Mandela is still alive and is hospitalized.

The News published the edition on Tuesday but it appears that no one noticed it, or reported on it, according to media blogger Charles Apple.

Apple wrote on Wednesday that the “Philadelphia Daily News joined the growing number of media outlets” claiming that Mandela died.

“The problem, of course: Mandela is not dead yet. Technically, at least. Reports are that he’s being kept alive by a respirator. Conflicting reports — mostly from the South African government that no one really seems to trust — are that he’s doing fine and may be discharged from the hospital in time for his birthday. Sure enough, reports today are that he’s made “dramatic” progress,” he added.

The digital section of the Daily News’ front page, however, shows that the error was removed (and see second screenshot above).

Apple said he got the image from Jarrod M. Graham, design editor of the Bakersfield Californian, but he doesn’t say where Graham got the image. 

Mandela has been hospitalized for several weeks, with reports periodically coming out that he is about to die. However, his family said his condition is improving.

“I visited him yesterday and he was watching television with headphones,” said daughter Zindzi Mandela with Sky TV, according to The Associated Press. “He gave us a huge smile and raised his hand … He responds with his eyes and his hands.”

She added he is gaining strength. “I should think he will be going home anytime soon,” Mandela told the broadcaster. 

Mandela is going to have his 95th birthday on Thursday; his eldest granddaughter described the family’s situation.

“To have a birthday with a person that’s still in hospital is not perfect but it’s something we need to celebrate because it’s yet another birthday that he is still with us,” Ndileka Mandela told The Daily Telegraph.